17 New Things We Learned From Westworld’s Season 2 Premiere

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Westworld Season 2 is finally here, as the premiere episode, “Journey Into Night,” has aired on HBO. And while Season 1 left us with plenty of questions, Season 2 has already begun filling in some of the blanks.

If you’ve already watched the episode, check out our Westworld Season 2, Episode 1 review. Then click through to find out all the new things we learned in the Season 2 premiere.

With all this new information, there are bound to be plenty of new Westworld Season 2 theories as well, so let us know in the comments below what you think is coming. Will Dolores escape the park? Will Delos regain control? Could Bernard possibly be a less reliable narrator? Tell us what you think.

1. Stubbs is fine.

This should surprise nobody, but Luke Hemsworth’s character, the security head Stubbs, seems just fine. Given how we last saw him in Season 1–getting jumped by the Ghost Nation warriors–there’s some backstory that needs to be filled in here.

2. Some time has passed.

Somehow, almost two weeks have gone by between the Season 1 finale and Bernard waking up on the beach. No doubt we’re going to spend big chunks of Season 2 catching up.

3. The hosts have physical, synthetic “brains.”

This is a massive change from Season 1: The modern hosts apparently have these white plastic “brains” inside their skulls. They’re hidden underneath skin, bone, and a layer of brain-like tissue, likely so guests are more convinced when they blow a host’s brains out. But they’re in there, even though we somehow never caught a glimpse of one during Season 1.

4. The hosts need their brain fluid to function.

This goes hand in hand with the brains revelation: The milky, coconut water-like fluid in the hosts’ heads is apparently some kind of vital conductor, based on Bernard’s reaction as his continuously leaks out.

5. Bernard now knows that he’s a host.

It’s often unclear on Westworld which version of a character we’re watching. For example, in the opening scene–the conversation with Dolores–was that Bernard or Arnold? However, one thing we know after this episode is that Bernard is now aware he’s a host, at least in the scenes that take place after the Season 1 finale.

6. Dolores is on a rampage.

Dolores shot Ford in the back of the head at the end of Season 1, but that didn’t necessarily mean that she was bound for a murderous rampage in Season 2. Of course, that’s exactly what happened. Does anyone feel bad for these Delos execs?

7. Westworld is on an island.

“Have them sign an NDA and then please escort them off my f***ing island.” We learn this in the conversation between the new character Karl Strand (played by Gustaf Skarsgård) and the military officials. Speaking of which…

8. The island is somewhere in Asia.

Based on the look of these uniforms, the island now owned by Delos was previously part of China.

9. There are more executives at Delos.

The bloodbath at the end of Westworld Season 1 didn’t spell the end of Delos entirely–although many delos higher-ups were in attendance, it seems Delos’s board and executives weren’t totally wiped out. Great–more targets for Dolores.

10. The Man in Black goes by “Bill” now.

This was a fun little nod. Westworld Season 1 expended lots of effort to ensure no character said the Man in Black’s name out loud. With that mystery wrapped up, we can just call him “Bill” now.

11. Charlotte has a secret lab.

When she and Bernard have nowhere else to go, Charlotte reveals that she knows the location of one of Westworld’s secret exits, complete with a manual override hidden under a rock. Whether this is just one of many, or Charlotte’s own personal getaway, is yet unclear.

12. The hosts are connected by an internal “mesh network.”

This was another big revelation: According to Bernard, all the hosts in the park(s) are connected by something he calls a “mesh network.” The network’s purpose is to allow hosts to subconsciously communicate so they can, for example, be aware of one another’s narratives and avoid crossing streams or creating plot holes. Bernard’s going to use the network to find Abernathy.

13. Ford appears to really be dead.

If seeing maggots crawling out of Ford’s face isn’t the show telling us “quit your theorizing, he’s not coming back,” I don’t know what would be.

14. There’s a new game for Bill to play.

Just in case you thought the Man in Black’s–err, Bill’s–fun would be over after he found the center of the maze, rest assured there’s a new game for him to play in Westworld Season 2. This time it’s Ford’s game, and the stakes are real–exactly how he wanted.

15. There are at least six parks.

And at least one of them has tigers. Rawr!

16. The hosts are all dead.

Time is weird in this episode, but this seems to be the latest point we glimpse–around two weeks after the events of Season 1, and all the hosts are floating dead in a lake. Wonder who put them there?

17. And Bernard apparently killed them.

“I–I killed them. All of them.” And with those words ends the first new episode of Westworld in almost two years. Can’t wait for next week!

Westworld Season 2, Episode 1 Review: Try To Keep Up

Spoilers for Westworld Season 2 Episode 1 below!

Westworld Season 2 is finally here, and based on the premiere episode, it seems like it’s taking a very different approach than Season 1 did. Think back to the show’s very first episode: Remember how much time it spent just on Dolores and Teddy’s story? In contrast, Season 2, Episode 1, “Journey Into Night,” is a runaway train that can’t be stopped.

Besides the opening chat between BernArnold and Dolores, Westworld’s Season 2 premiere was a direct continuation of the Season 1 finale. The party is over, and Delos has brought in the big guns to clean up Ford’s mess. The episode flits between the immediate aftermath of the Season 1 finale’s cocktail party, including the following day, and events that take place around two weeks later, after Bernard wakes up on the beach. And boy, does it cover a lot of ground.

Stubbs is alive. Delos is taking control back. Dolores and Maeve are on the warpath. The Man in Black (AKA Bill) has a new game to play. The hosts are all dead. Wait, the hosts are all dead? What in the worlds is going on?

“Journey Into Night” covered more ground in its hour and 10 minutes than any two episodes of Season 1, or so it seemed tonight–especially if you haven’t watched the first season in a while. Just look at all the new things we learned in the Season 2 premiere–was there a single episode during Season 1 that threw this much new information at us? Season 1 was all atmosphere and worldbuilding for long stretches, and this premiere seemed far more concerned with plot and set-up for the rest of Season 2. Catching up with all these characters again was fun, but it would have been nice if the episode gave us a little more breathing room.

There’s one moment in this premiere that exemplified that change of pace better than any other: When some random Delos guy accosts the Man in Black and casually calls him “Bill.” All of Westworld Season 1 was spent deliberately, conspicuously not calling Ed Harris’s character by his name. Westworld in a post-first season era has no time for that level of subtlety–at least not yet. The Man in Black is William is Bill. Try to keep up.

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Famously, Westworld Season 2 was always going to be about “chaos.” When Sizemore, the writer from last season who this time around is even more simpering and pathetic, entered the control room, he was shocked: “No one’s in control.” It seems that will indeed be the theme in Westworld Season 2. Even Gustaf Skarsgård’s new character, Karl Strand, is struggling to regain control. This is the Delos big gun they sent in after nearly two weeks of non-communication with the park, and he spends the whole episode playing catch-up. He knows about as much as we do: The rancher’s daughter is on the warpath, tigers and who knows what else are wandering between parks, and s*** is f***ed up.

But “Journey Into Night” felt more like a mid-season episode than a premiere. It mostly just moved the plot forward; Bill has a new game to play, Maeve is searching for her daughter with Hector and Sizemore in tow, Dolores and Teddy are seeking an exit, Bernard and Charlotte need to find Abernathy, and eventually, everyone’s going to wind up dead in a lake. The episode moved those pieces into place, but it didn’t really feel like the soft reset that it could have been.

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Maybe it’s better to jump straight to it after so long away–Season 1 aired in 2016, after all–but then again, we still haven’t seen the much-teased Shogun World. How cool would it have been if Season 2 had started fresh with a new setting and characters, then tied it all back to the main plot next week?

There are, of course, some brand new mysteries for Season 2, such as Bill’s new game, finding “the Door.” And given everything going wrong with Bernard–the “critical failure” causing him to suffer time displacement, face blindness, loss of motor function, etc.–our boy is clearly not going to be a reliable narrator this time around (not that he ever was).

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That, more than anything, seems like a tool Westworld Season 2 will gleefully use to keep us guessing–and to deny us any real ability to predict the full picture in advance. What have we already glimpsed in “Journey Into Night” that, by the end of the season, we’ll look back on in a new light?

Of course we’re going to continue theorizing, sleuthing, and combing through every frame of each new episode. But with its new breakneck speed and the show’s increased potential for obfuscation thanks to Bernard’s robo-dementia, for once the cadence of Westworld’s reveals might actually outpace us. Season 2 is stampeding to the beat of its own drum, and we’re just going to have to try and keep up.

Avengers: Infinity War Takes Place Only Half On Earth

Avengers: Infinity War is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will finally marry the Earthbound and cosmic sides of the MCU. That means the Guardians of the Galaxy are finally joining forces with the Avengers, all to fight against Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones.

Most of the action we’ve seen in Infinity War trailers so far seems to take place on Earth. And that makes sense; as the movie’s writers pointed out during a recent interview with GameSpot, half the characters in the movie live on Earth, and several of the Infinity Stones happen to be here.

But Infinity War won’t be as Earth-centric as you might suspect, it turns out.

“I will say we tried very hard to make it not 100% Earth, to make it pretty–I would say it’s 50/50,” Infinity War co-writer Chris Markus told GameSpot.

“Thanos is a cosmic character,” said Joe Russo, one of Infinity War‘s co-directors. “I think there’s a lot of really exotic locations in the movie, throughout the universe. It paints on a wide canvas.”

“I think if you saw [the 22 minutes of Infinity War that’s been screened], it’s more balanced between Earth and the cosmic,” added Anthony Russo, the movie’s other co-director. “I think when you see the movie, you’ll see the balance even more.”

Markus continued that they Earth in Infinity War to be “representative of the universe, not ‘the most special planet ever.’ You don’t want Earth to be, you know, America first.”

That of course brings up Wakanda, the fictional African nation we finally got to know in this year’s well-loved Black Panther. Based on what we’ve seen in Infinity War trailers so far, it seems much of the movie takes place in Wakanda.

It’s easy to forget, though, that with Black Panther and Infinity War coming out mere months apart, they couldn’t have possibly known that Wakanda would become such a popular place–or how it would be received at all.

“It’s lucky that [fans] liked that movie!” said Stephen McFeely, Infinity War’s other co-writer. McFeely and Markus wrote all three Captain America movies, plus Thor: The Dark World, but had nothing to do with Black Panther.

“You just have to have confidence,” Markus said.

“In charting out the story, [Wakanda] was the best place for this part of the movie to go,” McFeely explained. “We all sat around, and Marvel said, ‘Well, they’ll have just been there three months ago, is that a good idea? Let’s talk about that,’ And we tried to find some other way, and we’re like ‘No, this is what’s best for the story.’ And Marvel said, ‘If it’s best for the story, leave it in–and fingers crossed that it’s not boring that we go there again.'”

“And we consulted with them, to see what their battle looked like, what they were doing, so that we weren’t serving the exact same dish,” Markus added.

McFeely said test audiences responded much differently to Infinity War before and after Black Panther hit theaters earlier this year.

“The week before Black Panther came out, we get to Wakanda and people go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,'” he said. “The week after, people go, ‘Holy crap! Oh my god!’ It’s just free character, it’s free delight, that we didn’t have to work for, you know. It’s very satisfying.”

Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters this Friday, April 27.

Valve Acquires Firewatch Developer Campo Santo

Valve has purchased Campo Santo, the acclaimed developer of Firewatch. In a blog post on the studio’s website, Campo Santo said it will continue production on its current project, In the Valley of Gods, but with the benefit of having the likeminded people at Valve working alongside them.

“In Valve we found a group of folks who, to their core, feel the same way about the work that they do (this, you may be surprised to learn, doesn’t happen every day). In us, they found a group with unique experience and valuable, diverse perspectives. It quickly became an obvious match,” it explained.

“We had a series of long conversations with the people at Valve and everyone shared the satisfaction we take in working with people whose talents dwarf our own to make things we never thought possible. Both sides spoke about our values and how, when you get right down to it, we, as human beings, are hard-limited by the time we have left when it comes to making the things we care about and believe in. They asked us if we’d all be interested in coming up to Bellevue and doing that there and we said yes.”

The move is interesting as Valve has had somewhat of a reduced presence in game development and publishing, focusing instead on the business of operating Steam as a digital delivery platform, alongside maintaining titles such as DoTA 2. However, more recently the company has made clear its intentions to return to development and publishing, with Gabe Newell saying Valve is “going to start shipping games again.” The first of these new titles is Artifact, a Dota 2-themed card game. However, Newell said the studio has additional games in development.

In GameSpot’s Firewatch review, critic Scott Butterworth said its “world is captivating, its design is clever, and its characters are among the most well-written in gaming.”

He continued: “Though it might sound counterintuitive, the plot is in many ways secondary to the relationship you build between Henry and Delilah, and that portion of the game is truly inspired. I’ve already returned to Firewatch for a calming walk in the woods; I imagine I’ll go back again soon to visit with Henry and Delilah.”

Campo Santo’s next game, In The Valley of Gods, was announced during The Game Awards in December 2017. It is still a long time off being completed and is not scheduled to come out until 2019. You can watch the trailer for In The Valley of Gods here. Firewatch, meanwhile, is set for release on the Nintendo Switch in 2018.

God of War PS4 Director Answered All Our Burning Questions

Sony’s new God of War is finally out now on PlayStation 4. Early reviews came online last week–and critics across the board seemed to love the game. The action-adventure game is a reboot of sorts for Sony’s long-running franchise. It mixes things up significantly with major changes to combat and a story that shows a softer side of Kratos who now has a son (and a beard). Ahead of launch, GameSpot spoke with game director Cory Barlog and lead level designer Rob Davis about the new God of War, and they told us about why they changed the combat, the difficulty of making Kratos relatable, and how the game almost didn’t have Atreus in it. In a Very Important And Completely Serious Development, we also asked about why Kratos smashes health orbs with his feet instead of picking them up.

Below you can read our full interview with Barlog and Davis. For more on God of War, check out GameSpot’s God of War review and our guide detailing 11 tips you should know before starting.

So how are you guys feeling right now after so many years of working on it? Just being right on the edge of launch? [We interviewed Barlog and Davis last week, just hours before the review embargo lifted]

Barlog: It is absolutely like the night before Christmas. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I’m excited. I remain so proud of what we’ve done, so proud of the team and sort of the shift our entire studio has made. I feel strongly that this is the best thing that we’ve ever done. But, I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m still afraid of the review embargo lifting, I mean, it’s a very exposed time as a creative, right? It’s like are they going to swipe right or swipe left? I feel that’s literally what our feeling is, we’re standing up in front of the class naked and we’re being judged. But, I wouldn’t want to do that with any other team. I feel incredibly confident because of the team that we have. [Suffice it to say, Barlog is happy with the reviews.]

How do you think about that dynamic between sticking to your guns and being confident in what you’ve made, versus responding to players if they want something to be changed? How reactionary do you expect to be once this game comes out?

Barlog: It’s kind of that weird double-edged sword, right? There is certain stuff that we learn, especially even when you’re just doing play tests, to know what is subjective, what is objective, right? That sense of there are certain decisions that we’re going to make simply because, creatively, we believe this is a great decision. The realization of that decision is sometimes, like, ‘Oh, we should have gone a little bit to the left, not a little bit to the right.’ Those are great pieces of feedback, this is why we play test constantly, because then we wanna be able to make all those choices and mistakes before we get it out to the public.

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But, there is that final arbiter of once it goes out to everybody; that’s when things that we could have been blind to become a big deal. For me, I’m cognizant of it but the creative guns that we’ve stuck to, we’re not going to alter any of that. The things during playtesting like people wanted the classic controls, they wanna be able to map things with Square and Triangle. For us, that was just not a good way to play, but we listened to people and said, ‘You know what? Let’s put it in.’ It’s not a terrible thing, the UI to be able to have the immersive mode, which is what I wanted initially, now it’s like, no UI whatsoever.

But now, giving the players a choice it’s like, you can control all of it. You can put on and off whatever you want in this experience. That kind of stuff I think is fantastic, that is what communication of the community is for.

Yeah. Now, I’ve played it about an hour, so far, and I’ve gotten past that first boss fight, which I thought was fantastic.

Barlog: Oh, good. Good, good, good.

The opening of the game … in the past you’ve gone with these huge, bombastic scenes with Kratos fighting a larger-than-life character. But this time it’s different. Why?

“I wanted people to be surprised, and pleasantly surprised” — Barlog on God of War’s opening sequence.

Barlog: [We wanted to] circumvent the expectation. So, [it was] very deliberate in the beginning that I was talking to people and saying, ‘I don’t want scale to be the crutch’ and it’s like, ‘Oh, look we’ve put a big guy there and you take it for granted.’ Any sort of resonance would be interactive, I want it to feel like you don’t expect what’s gonna happen, to happen. So, that feeling of when the Superman new experience begins and two strong characters duke it out, it feels more real, if that makes sense?

Yeah, absolutely.

Barlog: We always have the Indiana Jones, James Bond opener, but I still wanted that, the soul of that. I wanted people to be surprised, and pleasantly surprised, right? Like you were saying, I think the circumventing of their expectations, which, by Ascension we kind of were not able to do that. Ascension has an amazing opener, but it was like, ‘Oh, well we’ve seen big openers before. That’s really cool but I sort of expected it. I’m expecting you to do that, so it didn’t really surprise me.’

The opening battle plays out in multiple stages. Can talk about that design decision to make the combat flow that way?

Rob Davis: I mean a part of it is teaching the player without realizing that they’re being taught something, right? And part of it is giving you practice, as well. So, any time you can get the player to learn stuff in a way that’s actually fun, rather than just pushing them through more of a boring tutorial, that’s always gonna resonate in your brain a lot longer and you’re gonna be excited to use it again.

So, design and functionality-wise, I think the combat and boss team did such a good job, because you come out of that experience really knowing a lot about Kratos’ combat and how to block, how to use rage, how to throw the ax. You get a lot of practice time with all those things, but as a player, you come out of it thinking, ‘Whoa, that was a real God of War-style big whole opening.’ And, what you don’t realize, is that we’ve played a little bit of a magic trick on you to learn all this stuff.

Barlog: And also the sense that when you walk away from it, there’s a stronger emotional connection to it, as well. Keeping things reduced allowed us to actually have that what’s at stake, right? Atreus actually being a trigger, so that, as you’re going through it, you see that, ‘Oh wow, even in this blurry haze, Kratos was rough with his kid, but he’s also super protective that when any sort of protection of a threat against him comes, that’s when he rages out,’ right?

That actually is shorter, that boss fight, than it was originally designed. So, we cut about 30 to 35% out of it, simply because pacing-wise, we were like, ‘Alright, well we want that turnover, we want that what’s gonna happen next and that feeling of, Wow, this thing is massive. So, that became a little too massive, which is great, I think part of the magic of working with this team, is everybody’s just so creative throwing all these great ideas in there that we end up in that ideal situation, which is, you know it’s done when there’s nothing left to remove, right? There’ll be so much cool stuff in there, you just keep removing something and making it tighter and tighter and now and it’s like, ‘Look, I can’t take anything else away otherwise it’ll collapse.’ Perfect, we’ve got it.

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I’m curious why you wanted to change the combat so significantly in this game.

Barlog: I think because we had made seven games with that combat system, and I kept looking around at how incredibly talented our systems and how my team was and going, ‘Alright, I need them to take on the challenge that we had on God of War 1.’ That challenge of nobody really knows what the system was…was just kind of a–I don’t wanna say a mess, because that would make it seem like it was derogatory–just more like they hadn’t found their sea legs in combat and working with [the team] we kind of fleshed out what is sort of the core Kratos, right? The L1 special, Square, Square, Triangle–I animated Square, Square, Triangle the first week I was there. So, and then that L1 and Square spinning special, that was the second week I was there.

I didn’t wanna change it for the sake of changing it, I wanted to reflect how all of us have grown up and how all of us … What we play is different, because God of War is a reflection of what we play, right?

You know, Resident Evil 4 came out in the middle of [God of War 2], right? And that game affected me so dramatically. And then, Resident Evil 7 comes out, and it show creators with, I think, a very strong vision and a really good team, can make these bold decisions, and actually have the audience follow them. Even if there was distance in the beginning, right? It’s the, every time James Bond changes, right, they’re like, ‘Oh, Daniel Craig, who is this guy?’

Every time Facebook changes their layout.

Barlog: Exactly.

Every time Twitter changes their layout.

Barlog: It is that natural resistance.

Yeah.

Davis: There’s an old game design saying that the camera is genre, right? So, put the camera on top, make it more of like a mobile or a Diablo game, right?

Barlog: I love that; that’s great.

Davis: You know, maybe more of a navigation game or something like that. Once you put the camera, like as deep as [the developers did], you’re now in like more of an intimate, visceral perspective, right? Then, you’ve gotta start looking through everything in the lens of what does it mean to have it up close and we started talking about, ‘Well, there’s a lot more observation in this game.’ So for the exploration and stuff, and you’ll see them all as you keep playing. A lot of it comes from the perspective of, what does it feel like to have cursor on the screen and a camera that is really focused behind the player. So, wherever possible, we try to design with that in mind, and there’s so much you can do with it. That sort of keeps it feeling familiar.

Davis: And, I think that’s what Resident Evil 4 had when you could drop the pendants down, you would think to yourself, ‘I really wanna get this, because I don’t wanna waste at all.’ So, their combination of poised camera exploration and scavenging was critical. In our case, it’s all about recalling that axe.

Barlog: We fought a lot in the beginning over the camera distance. I wanted it close and the systems and combat team wanted it more farther away, something you would see in Arkham or the Assassin’s Creed games and that back and forth battle finally led to [lead gameplay designer Jason McDonald] telling us to go away, spending a weekend playing around with it and said, ‘I’ll tell you what my recommendation is, just leave me alone because I’m so annoyed with you right now.’ And, I didn’t leave him alone, I annoyed him even more over the weekend.

“We fought a lot in the beginning” — Barlog on changing the camera

But, on Monday, he kind of sat everybody down with a presentation and just said, ‘First of all, you’re gonna laugh, because I ended up closer than any of us wanted.’ He was like, ‘You want it here, I want it here, I ended up here,’ and he’s like, ‘Let me tell you why I think I can make this work.’ And, I started weeping inside, I was like, ‘You’re so great, I love this.’ But, I win and then, everybody wins, tell everybody.

But, it was so well thought out. And there’s a time when you can say, ‘I want this,’ and the [developers are] like, ‘Fine, I’ll just figure it out.’ And, there’s a time when they have an ah-ha and they go, “Oh, I really want to do this.” The best stuff we ever do is when people say, ‘I really wanna so this and I’m gonna take it two steps further.’ And, that is the magic of working with Sony altogether, Santa Monica was great.

Davis: Think it was the right way to go, because you throw the axe a lot in this game and there’s a lot you can do with the axe. And, I don’t think players would enjoy it quite so much if it was looming all the way out and all the way back in.

In the limited amount of time that I’ve played so far, just the ax has that feeling of weight to if so when it gets recalled … And, the camera being where it is, it feels like that’s where you are, you’re feeling the entire thing.

Barlog: That level of creativity and agency for the player, was something that we had talked about early on, but they didn’t really know how we were gonna achieve it. On the previous God of War games we kind of had very fixed things that you would do, and you had some creativity, but the creativity was boxed in, right? And, that’s not to say anything was bad about them, it was just how we chose to do it.

In this one, we really wanted to open it up in a sense that all of us could play the game very differently but we’re using the same tools. And, the expansion comes from one of the upgrade choices that you’re making, what are the moments and moment choices that you’re making that make watching you play and watching you play so dramatically different. You can see when one of our really good combat-related testers would record some of the videos that we have teased, right? Because, he’s just amazing, he uses every move, he just looks great doing it, and then you would see another person who just picked up the controller, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a completely different game, right?’ Because they’re making different choices, so I think that, to me, is one of the biggest victories we’ve had in this game, that sense that there truly is a creative choice you’re making.

Also, how do you make a God of War relatable? In the bit that I’ve played so far, you can tell that he’s firm but understanding, with Atreus, but I’m just curious about the motivation for making him a person with feelings.

Barlog: I think so many people have leveled the criticism of, ‘He’s just one note,’ but I knew, alright, look I want to try this apple, this idea of, again, circumventing the expectations of what you have for this. When I was at Lucasfilm, I read some of the scripts that they had done for a TV show they were gonna do, and a very well known Star Wars character, whom I did not like, was written in a way that I felt sympathetic to him, and I was very taken aback by it. One, because it was a written form of it and it was so powerful and I was like, I had really decided who this character was going into it, but then reading it and seeing how he was jilted and how he was manipulated and how sort of exposed his heart, if you will, to this other character and she stomped on it, multiple times, right? Kratos is a little bit of that sense of everybody thinks they know who he is, right? But, nobody is just one thing, right? And, it’s not really good to be one thing.

And, I thought, alright, creatively, the best challenge I could ever take on is to actually make people reach the end of this game and go, ‘I either feel bad, I feel connected, or I felt like that moment was specifically related to me, or I have gone through that same thing.’ If I could achieve that, with a character that everybody thought, ‘Whatever, he’s just a guy that, in a cinematic, goes to kill people,’ now that’s an amazing thing.

And, I had just had my son, at the start of this game and I was kind of looking at it like ‘Oh, wow, how much of myself do I wanna show here,’ right? How much of my faults, right, do I want the mask and cover up and how many of the dumb things that I’ve done in my life do I wanna prevent him from doing? And, it’s like, wow, that’s Kratos, that’s Kratos to a T, he has made the worst decision in his life, but be able to actually, earnestly, be a parent, right?

Say that he was a soldier off to war, come home every once in a while, then go back off to war, he wasn’t really there because he was fairly ambitious in his military campaign. Now, it’s kind of like, put him in a situation where he has no choice but to deal with it, right? And, in this game, he’d been trying to avoid it, even though he wants to figure this out, he’d been avoiding it for so long, the beginning of this game is all about forcing him into that situation. Honestly, for me, that’s the most perfect dramatic ground to play in.

So, I’m incredibly excited to see where the story goes in that department, so please don’t tell me anything else.

Barlog: I’m not gonna tell you anything, no spoilers.

Davis: To be honest, I was gonna say, but I think I’ll leave it alone.

Barlog: I mean, the challenge also being thrown to every department, right, was this is thematically where we want to go. I wanna see us challenge ourselves in every part of the game, so that as you’re doing exploration, as you’re doing puzzles, it is all about the collaboration between the two and it’s all about trying to develop their characters even in the lull moments. But, to their credit, the level design people have done amazing things that integrated not only the axe, but also this continually growing father and son relationship.

Davis: You might think, ‘Oh, well Kratos is like the biggest badass there is,’ so there’s all these setups we can do with Kratos, but actually like having Atreus be an expert in Norse language and mythology is awesome because you can do a whole other set of design based on what Atreus is an expert in, that Kratos is sort of not, right? And then you get a bit of an odd couple relationship, right? You know, Buzz Lightyear’s good at one thing, Woody’s good at another thing, right? So, that’s the foundation of a sort of odd couple.

And then, you got the fact that they’re both in a strange land, so then you can do a third setup where neither of them really understand what’s going on and then you get cool storytelling, level design, and puzzles and exploration intersecting because they’re discussing the thing they have to work out together. They end up kind of with things Kratos is really an expert in, things the son is kind of an expert in, and things neither of them are an expert in. And then, when you can write to that, goal to that, design to that, that’s where I think you have a new peanut butter and chocolate between Kratos and Atreus, but it didn’t exist before.

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I read that you were pressured to maybe cut Atreus from the game or at least significantly scale back his role. Could the game have worked without him?

Barlog: It could have, it would have been very different; the early phase when they told me, ‘Man, this might be too hard, too expensive, we’re already looking at so many challenges, it’s maybe too much.’ When I went back and said, ‘Alright, fine, if it was not with Atreus, what would it be?’ And, it would have been a very, very different game, right? The comparison I made was, ‘Alright, it’s gonna be All Is Lost with Robert Redford, it’s gonna be one character who talks to himself occasionally, but generally, it will be very silent,’ and everyone will talk in old Norse, so that you won’t understand anything anybody’s saying. And, I think that threat was enough for them to go, ‘Okay, we’ll take on Atreus.’ So, it was kind of the creative director, passive aggressive, ‘Oh, yeah? Well, we’ll take all the toys away.’

I know a while ago, you were announced as working on a Mad Max game with George Miller. Is there anything you learned on that project that you took to God of War?

Barlog: Yeah, so nobody ever got to see the things that really excited me and George about that. Some of it definitely inspired what we were doing here, there was such a different thing. But, I think none of them really one to one had a knowledge of transfer over, but it’s the developing the relationships on the road, the ideas and characters, figuring each other out as you go, was something that I started to explore in our draft of Max.

And then, it’s just unfortunate the way that sometimes games go that they ended up going in a different direction, and George and I ended up not working on that one with them, but the learnings I got from that definitely made it possible, I think, to do this. Like I think if I had attempted this game, I’m not even certain if I would have attempted it, had I not worked with George. That is the impact he has.

I feel like prior to working with him, it would be like reading a book without your glasses and you have terrible vision, so you see the words, but they’re blurry. Working with him, and starting to understand why drama occurs, why conflict feeds into the development of all the characters, that kind of put glasses on me to help me understand like, ‘Wow, I really don’t understand drama,’ right? And, even now, I feel like I’m on the road and I’m on a journey that I’m about a quarter of the way through. So, I have a huge learning ahead of me but I started off on that, because I was pushed, I think, by working with so many amazing new ideas, he is surrounded by incredibly talented people who literally just throw gems out like nobody’s business. And, I’m just like, ‘Seriously? Are you not picking any of this stuff up, anybody? I’m gonna horde all of it, right?’ So, yeah, it was amazing.

Why does Kratos smash everything to pick it up? Why doesn’t he reach down and pick things up? Why does he have to crush it under his foot?

Barlog: [Turns to Davis] You wanna talk about that one?

I’m just curious.

Davis: I think, if I recall correctly, the animation went in of Kratos punching the chest and internally, we actually call it a punch chest. And, then Cory said, ‘This game will never ship with Kratos punching that chest. I hate the punches, I hate the punches.’ And, then something happened over time when he just warmed up to it, and it’s so fun and snappy and it’s so quick to do, and you know, it’s that image of old Kratos that I think, once we saw everything in there, originally, it felt like Kratos was trying too hard to be brooding and what Kratos … But, once you get everything back together, it was actually cool. It was cool to see Kratos doing a bit of his old stuff, especially when you’re early in the game.

And the stomp?

Barlog: The systems guys were really hoping at some point I would change my mind, and not have you pick up loot, they were just like, ‘I don’t wanna go around and pick up loot.’ I’m like, ‘Seriously? The orbs were the past, and that’s cool, but in this one, there’s something satisfying about collecting your rewards from a heard earned fight,’ right? And, the compromise that I made with them is that they said, ‘Well, look, picking up health is super annoying.’ They gave me a great example, put me in a fight that was really hard and I kept getting hit when I was … And, I was like, ‘Alright, I get it, that’s good point. What are we gonna do?’ And they’re like, coincidentally, they load something up really quick and they’re like, they did a stomp with a crystal and I was like, ‘Okay, I get it, I can dig it.’

But, yeah, the punch chest was one of those things where it was so well known for Kratos that I wanted to make sure we didn’t overdo that and then end up having him just hit everything because he was just known for that, but like Rob said, I think it fit in the tapestry because he didn’t do it for everything. It became the one focal point and then the stomp just became, to me, a great gameplay decision, that they had a great [idea] and said, ‘Look, we need speed and pace so that while you’re in a fight, you can quickly go over, eat your health, and then get back into the fight.’

God Of War PS4 Guide: 11 Tips You Should Know Before Playing

Becoming a God

God of War on PS4 is a quite a different game from past entries in the series. It completely revamps combat, progression, and exploration with a bevy of new features and mechanics. As a result, when you first start the game’s campaign, some of these new elements may seem disorienting and unfamiliar.

It might surprise you to know that the game actually lets you spend time exploring a relatively open area packed with optional activities. There’s even a multi-branch skill tree containing an array of different attacks you can unlock with XP. Speaking of XP, God of War embraces RPG-like progression, allowing you the option to craft and upgrade armor. With so many new systems at work, we’ve gathered 11 tips to better help you play the game.

Have any useful tips that you don’t see listed here? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to read out God of War review. And for more guides, check out our progression explainer. You can also check out our gallery showcasing the game’s coolest Legendary armor sets.

Take Time To Explore Optional Areas

As stated, this latest God of War is far more open in structure. It starts out linear, but once you reach the Lake of Nine, the game allows you to explore optional areas and search for more resources. While you’re free to continue the story at any time, try to take time to explore, as doing so will net you extra Hacksilver, crafting resources, and equipment.

You can even find sidequests that yield their own unique stories and in-game rewards. All the while, the optional battles you engage in along the way will earn you more XP, giving you access to more abilities on the skill tree. God of War’s main story may be fantastic, but don’t ignore its side content. Hidden along the sidelines of every realm is a treasure trove of items and secrets well worth discovering.

Go Explore, But Explore Thoroughly

When you’re out exploring, make sure to investigate every nook and cranny of the environment. There’s always a ton of treasure chests around that are chock-full of items and resources. In addition, if you ever find any Runic Chests, take the time to open them up, as they usually contain valuable performance enhancing items, like Idunn Apples and Horns of Blood Mead, which increase your maximum health and Spartan Rage meters. You’ll rarely ever have to worry about runic chests or hidden treasure being ability locked, so be sure to search the environment closely for the solution.

Don’t Forget About Quick Turn

Due to God of War’s over the shoulder camera, you’ll often need to back off when surrounded by a group of enemies in combat. While you can roll out of most sticky situations, there are times when you’ll be fighting in areas that don’t afford a lot of wiggle room. Thankfully, there’s a quick turn ability, which is performed by pressing down on the directional pad. It’s a quick maneuver that might be a tad disorienting, but it can be a lifesaver when an enemy is about to hit you from the rear. Just try not to mash it, as you’ll likely quick-turn twice on accident, putting you back right where you started and completely open to a direct attack.

If the default quick turn button isn’t to your liking, it’s possible to switch to other configurations. Simply access the options menu and choose the configuration that best suits you in the gameplay section under settings.

Use And Customize Your Runic Abilities

While you might be inclined to utilize the default attacks and combos available to you to dispatch foes, don’t forget to use your Runic Attacks. These powerful special moves can be equipped to your weapons and are triggered by holding L1 and pressing R1 or R2. There are two types of Runic Attacks: Light and Heavy. The game features a variety of different Runic Attacks to equip, each sporting their own unique effects, attributes, and cooldowns. You can even upgrade them with XP to enhance their power.

They’re effective all their own, but a well-placed Runic Attack can make a powerful combo even more devastating and quickly turn the tide of any tough encounter, giving you an upper hand when your chances of survival seem low. You accumulate a wealth of Runic Attacks throughout your journey. Diversify your runic attack roster and experiment with them to see which ones best suit your playstyle.

Choose Your Skills Wisely

During the first five to six hours of your adventure, you don’t earn a lot of XP. With so little to go around, you’ll have to prioritize which combat skills you want to unlock. Combat skills, like Grinding Storm and Guardian Sweep, are great choices if you often find yourself feeling overwhelmed by enemy groups. On the other hand, if you’d rather focus on high damage output over time, then prioritize unlocking skills under the Rage Combat tab.

There’s not a lot of wiggle room early on, so it’s important to start thinking about which skills best suit your playstyle. But don’t fret, you’re not forced to unlock certain skills over others the whole way through; you’ll eventually nab enough XP to unlock every ability on the skill tree. Until then, choose your skills wisely.

Get Creative With Combat

As you’ll see from the Skill tree, there’s an abundance of maneuvers you can utilize in combat–almost too much at first. But don’t let that overwhelm you; these attacks can be used in a wide range of situations and strung together into a variety of powerful combos.

To be more effective in a fight, it helps to study what’s available to you. After acquiring a new skill, take time to understand its properties, like how long it takes to perform, how it affects enemies upon hitting them, and if it can be combined with other attacks in your repertoire. And once you’ve gained an understanding of how an attack works, consider which Runic Attacks would best compliment the combos you’re looking to create.

God of War leaves you a ton of room to be creative, so don’t feel like you need to fight enemies a single way. If you like being flashy in a fight, be flashy. If you prefer being more calculated with your attacks, you’re welcome to do that too. There’s rarely a wrong approach. As long as you understand the basics of guarding and dodging, you’re free to be as inventive as you like.

Make Atreus a Main Part Of Your Combat Repertoire

Atreus may not seem the most formidable ally at first: his arrows don’t do much damage and he doesn’t do much to assist you. However, as you progress, Atreus begins to pick up on new melee techniques and weapons, which make him invaluable in combat. For instance, he eventually starts jumping on enemies to choke them, providing you a window to punish them with a deadly combo. While maneuvers like this are helpful, the most effective weapon in Atreus’ arsenal are his Light and Shock arrows, which inflict powerful status ailments. We recommend using Shock Arrows during most combat situations, as they can immobilize enemies for a brief duration.

If you find yourself low on health and cornered by a group of tough enemies, Atreus can also be incredibly useful in drawing aggro away from you, giving you ample time to recalculate your attack strategy or search for nearby health items. He can even interrupt enemies out of powerful attack animations, sparing you from having to dodge or block them. And if that wasn’t enough, he eventually gets access to Runic Summons, which are incredibly useful for crowd control.

Pick a Playstyle And Stick With It

God of War allows you a surprising amount of flexibility to customize and tailor Kratos’s stats to your playstyle. With an array of armor and enchantments available, you can shape Kratos to fit into a variety of different class archetypes. For example, it’s possible to stat into the traditional tank class route by min-maxing strength and defense; you can even become a battle mage by enhancing Runic attack strength and cooldown timers. Take time to think about what statistics you value the most in combat, and stick with it, as the sooner you can funnel your crafting resources into a specific playstyle, the better.

Make Sure Re-equip Your Enchantments

In your journey, you’ll eventually purchase or discover a new armor set to replace your old one. It can be easy getting caught up in the excitement of equipping a new set–so much so that you might forget to re-equip all of the Enchantments from your old armor onto your new one. Unless you’re a fan of playing at a disadvantage, don’t make this mistake.

Grab Yggdrasil Dew

As you explore realms on your boat, you’ll notice half-arched trees scattered throughout the environment that yield a glowing item known as Yggdrasil Dew. This special collectable grants an instant bonus to one of Kratos’ stats, like strength, defense, or vitality. If you see these distinct looking trees anywhere in your travels, make it a priority to collect the Yggdrasil Dew attached to them. They’re well worth your time.

Complete Muspelheim And Niflheim Challenges To Nab Legendary Gear

Later on, you’ll discover the realms known as Muspelheim And Niflheim, which are completely optional. Without spoiling what you do in each realm, we highly encourage you to visit them and complete the challenges within. Completing them can net you special crafting resources used to make some of the best armor in the game.

Fortnite Is Coming To China, And That’s A Big Deal

The hugely popular battle royale game, Fortnite, is coming to China, it appears. Developer Epic posted a drawing on Twitter today of the fictional Fortnite character Jonesy’s passport, which is stamped for entry into China on April 23. That could be the day the game is due to launch in China.

China is a massive market for games, so there is a lot of potential for Fortnite to succeed in the market. However, as PUBG discovered, cheating and hacking are serious concerns in China (and other parts of the world). So it will be interesting to see how Fortnite fares.

It’s unclear if Epic is bringing Fortnite to China by itself or through a partner. If it’s through a partner, it seems like Tencent would make sense, given that Chinese giant Tencent owns 40 percent of Epic and already has major connections in China. We also don’t know if Fortnite will be available on all platforms (console, PC, and mobile) in China. In China, mobile and PC gaming are known to be more popular than console. Also unclear is if there are any differences between the Western and Chinese versions of Fortnite.

We have contacted Epic in an attempt to get more details; we’ll update this post with anything we hear back.

In news about Fortnite the game, the Battle Royale game’s newest update came out today. It added a 50v50 limited-time mode and a new Light Machine Gun, among other things. To mark the launch, developer Epic is holding a Double XP weekend, so now is a really good time to jump in an get extra rewards.

Valve Loses Appeal For $3 Million Fine In Australia

Valve’s latest appeal over an Australian regulator’s order for the company to pay $3 million on claims that it misled or deceived gamers in matters related to Steam’s refund policy has been dismissed. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced the decision today, stating that it is an important precedent related to overseas companies that do business in Australia. Specifically, the court said this decision affirms that Valve, which is based in the United States, is bound by Australian laws when selling to Australian gamers.

“This important precedent confirms the ACCC’s view that overseas-based companies selling to Australian consumers must abide by our laws,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said. “If customers buy a product online that is faulty, they are entitled to the same right to a repair, replacement or refund as if they’d walked in to a store.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s legal action against Valve dates back to 2014, which is when the process began. Two years later, in 2016, Australia’s Federal Court ruled that Valve misled or deceived consumers. And later that year, Valve was ordered to pay penalties amounting to $3 million.

Valve’s initial appeal was dismissed, so this is just the latest setback for Valve. The company is arguing that it never properly did business in Australia because it sells its products through a virtual marketplace, Steam. As such, Valve contends that Steam does not fall into the definition of “goods,” as it is defined by Australian Consumer Law.

According to the ACCC, Steam has 2.2 million users in Australia. We have contacted Valve in an attempt to get a comment on this latest appeal; we’ll update this post if we hear anything back.

NFL Team Uses Fortnite To Announce 2018 Schedule

Fortnite sure is popular. The NFL’s Buffalo Bills have created a silly new video where they announced their 2018 schedule by way of Fortnite. Really.

“All aboard the Battle Bus,” reads a tweet from the studio with the video. The video shows Fortnite’s famous Battle Bus flying across the map, but instead of places like Tilted Towers, you see locations like Bill’s Badlands. It’s expected at this point for big brands and teams to try to connect with the audiences through Fortnite, which is one of the most popular games on Earth right now. But really, all of these forced Fortnite branding opportunities are getting to be a bit much, if you ask me.

In news about Fortnite the game, the Battle Royale game’s newest update came out today. It added a 50v50 limited-time mode and a new Light Machine Gun, among other things. To mark the launch, developer Epic is holding a Double XP weekend, so now is a really good time to jump in an get extra rewards.